Activities of The Jockey Club
Equine Injury Database
David Haydon   David Haydon - President, InCompass Solutions Inc.

James L. Gagliano: We announced the launch of the Equine Injury Database a few weeks ago and David Haydon and Mary Scollay are here to give us a brief overview of the system and what it will mean for the industry. We'll start with David…

David Haydon: Thank you, Jim… Seven years ago, at the 2001 Round Table Conference, we announced plans to restructure one of The Jockey Club's commercial companies, McKinnie Systems. At that time, McKinnie Systems was providing software products to racing offices and horsemen's bookkeeper departments.

Although McKinnie was successful, those products used individual computer systems at individual racetracks and required multiple file transfers on a daily basis between the racetrack, Equibase and The Jockey Club to keep the racetrack's computer systems up-to-date. Clearly, it was time to update the product line and the technology that supported it.

Our re-engineering plans were based on a central database model developed by The Jockey Club Technology Services. We created a new company, InCompass Solutions, and it was our vision to re-write our software applications to operate in a central database environment and obtain licenses to access the industry's official race result information provided by Equibase and The Jockey Club's official pedigree data.

Today, over 100 racetracks utilize InCompass' products, and they operate as a virtual enterprise, electronically sharing and exchanging data with Equibase, The Jockey Club, racing commissioners, regulatory vets and others on an immediate basis.

The InCompass applications and the central database environment that they operate in are the foundation for the newest service for the industry, the Equine Injury Database.

One of the primary recommendations that came out of the first Welfare and Safety Summit in October of 2006 was to "develop a uniform on-track injury reporting system for horses."

The following spring, it was announced that over 30 racetracks had agreed to participate in a pilot project to collect uniform data of equine injuries suffered during live racing.

The pilot project was spearheaded by Dr. Mary Scollay, who at that time was the track veterinarian at Calder and Gulfstream and was working on the design of a form that all track vets could use to collect a standard and comprehensive set of data.

Working closely with Dr. Scollay on the pilot project, The Jockey Club, through its commercial, for-profit subsidiaries, made the decision to fund the design and development of the Equine Injury Database. It was an obvious choice to use the InCompass Race Track Operations system as the technology platform as this system was already installed at virtually every racetrack in North America.

In June of 2007, a working group from InCompass and The Jockey Club Technology Services and subject matter experts led by Dr. Scollay and Dr. Rick Arthur from California began the design and business process phase of the project.

Using the injury reporting form as a blueprint, the project moved into the software development phase in the 4th quarter of 2007, and after 1,000 hours of design and software development, the first version was used to data enter over 3,000 injury reports received during the pilot project.

Earlier this spring, the application moved into field testing under the watchful eye of Dr. Arthur in California and by July we were ready to launch the system. On July 22, The Jockey Club announced the official launch of the Equine Injury Database. The primary objectives of the database are:

  • To identify the frequency, types and outcome of racing injuries using a standardized format that will generate valid statistics
  • To identify markers for horses at increased risk of injury
  • To serve as a data source for research directed at improving safety and preventing injuries

The system is easy to use and is similar to other InCompass products and provides the ability to collect comprehensive data.

The Equine Injury Database provides the ability to collect valuable information according to consistent standards and veterinarian guidelines.

We continue to improve the system and recently completed software enhancements that permit the collection of data for non-thoroughbred horses and injuries that occur during workouts or in the stall and barn area.

Dr. Scollay has been helping every step of the way with this project. What started as a hardcopy form to collect injuries at South Florida tracks has now turned into the industry's first national Equine Injury Database.

Dr. Scollay is here today to tell us more about the system and the value of that information. Dr. Scollay…

Dr. Mary Scollay Dr. Mary Scollay - Equine Medical Director, Kentucky Horse Racing Commission

Dr. Mary Scollay: Thank you, David. Good morning, everyone.

Following Barbaro's injury in the 2006 Preakness Stakes, veterinarians and racing industry personnel across the country were asked numerous questions about the type, frequency and outcome of horse racing injuries.

The answers, or lack thereof, starkly identified the industry's inability to account for its equine athletes.

Local or regional racing data existed, but was not amenable to compilation on a national scale. Differences in terminology and recordkeeping criteria rendered the data both venue- and time-specific.

At The Jockey Club's Welfare and Safety of the Racehorse Summit at Keeneland in October 2006, I proposed the establishment of a national racing injury reporting program.

In December 2006, at the AAEP/RMTC racing regulatory veterinarians' annual meeting, a single page standardized reporting form, amenable for use in all Thoroughbred racing jurisdictions, was provided to regulatory veterinarians to implement and evaluate.

The reporting criteria were defined as horse(s) whose condition required intervention by the regulatory veterinarian, and these conditions ranged from mild and spontaneously resolving to fatal.

Critical factors in soliciting disclosure from reporting veterinarians were then, and remain, the confidentiality and responsible use of the information submitted.

To that end, the database will not be accessible to the public. No racetrack's data will be singled out, and there will be no public comparisons of injury rates at specific racetracks. Injury information will not be published in such a way that a given horse, trainer or racetrack could be identified.

The value of the information now being collected, in a word, is priceless.

The industry has never had an opportunity like this before.

The utility of this database is limited not by its contents, but by our ability to see what questions can be asked of it.

Injury information pre-dating the existence of this database cannot be recaptured with the scope and accuracy of the current system. So while that information is lost, the establishment of this database now ensures a solid, scientific foundation from which to monitor the health status of the racehorse.

A commonly heard assertion that racehorses are sustaining injury more frequently and severely than in the past can be neither proved nor disproved because the data simply does not exist. Over time, and with the compilation of a volume of data, the ability to replace opinion and conjecture with fact will benefit industry stakeholders at all levels. It will facilitate informed decision making.

Improvement in equine health and racing safety requires three steps:

  1. determination of risk aversion;
  2. identification of risk factors;
  3. and
  4. implementation of strategies to mitigate risk.

Each step is dependent upon its predecessor.

Risk aversion has been determined; there is a universal mandate to reduce the incidence of racing injuries.

The Equine Injury Database will be a critical tool in the identification of risk factors, information upon which risk mitigation is dependent. Simply put, if you don't know why something happens, you'd be hard pressed to prevent it.

The system is being provided and maintained by InCompass and The Jockey Club, at no cost to the participating racetracks and as a service to the industry. As David just mentioned, expansion into areas of non-race related injuries, other breeds and disciplines is already underway.

I'd like to acknowledge with gratitude my regulatory veterinarian colleagues. They've given generously of their time and energy to support and promote this program from its inception, and they are to be credited in no small part with its success to date.

The Equine Injury Database is a win-win situation if there ever was one. It is good for the horses; it is good for the industry.

When we have collected a statistically significant amount of data, composite national statistics will be published. It is anticipated that the first set of statistics will be made available in 2009.

This is, by design, intended to be a standing program; there is no projected endpoint for data collection.

I strongly urge any racetrack that hasn't yet signed up to participate in this endeavor to do so. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The Equine Injury Database is a giant step forward for this industry and improving the health and safety of our racehorses.

Thank you.

Ogden Mills Phipps: Thank you, Jim, Matt, David and Dr. Scollay. We appreciate those efforts on our behalf.

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